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Monday, December 19, 2011

What Is Enterprise Architecture Anyway?



There aren't a lot of books on enterprise architecture, never mind good books. The Art of Enterprise Information Architecture by Godinez et al (IBM Press, 2010) fills a big void. I recommend the book for an excellent overview of enterprise architecture (EA) and reference architecture (RA), followed by a detailed discussion on Enterprise Information Architecture (EIA) and an EIA RA.

The authors define architecture as well as EA. They provide an overview of EA as well as RA, noting that there are various elements of an architecture including business architecture, application architecture, security architecture, and, of course, information architecture (IA). After the introductory chapters, the book launches into a detailed discussion on IA, EIA, and a RA for EIA. EIA is explored in terms of multiple views (conceptual, logical) and models (component, operational).

As the authors explain, the key that explains the "enterprise" in an EA is the manner in which an EA provides a bridge between an enterprise's business strategy and IT strategy and implementation such that business and IT are aligned across the enterprise. Furthermore, an EA strives to seek consistency and reduce redundancy in IT initiatives across the enterprise.


As the book clarifies, a RA is a proven architecture template or blueprint for a particular domain that can be adapted for the enterprise at hand.


The survey includes references to some classic articles on the subject (see below) as well as detailed discussions on important elements of a next-gen EIA including cloud computing, enterprise information integration (EII), metadata management, master data management (MDM), mashups for Web 2.0, dynamic warehousing, and business analytics and optimization (BAO).

I am reproducing links to selected articles referenced in the book. (I wrote this blog entry mostly to save these links for my own future reference.)

  1. Design an SOA solution using a reference architecture. Arsanjani et al. IBM developerWorks. 2007.

    The authors present multiple views of their SOA reference architecture.
  2. A comparison of the top four enterprise architecture methodologies. Session. MSDN. 2007.

    Useful overviews of: (1) Zachman Framework for enterprise architectures, (2) The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), (3) the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA), and (4) the Gartner Methodology.
  3. The Open Group Architecture Framework's (TOGAF) Architecture Development Method (ADM).

    ADM is perhaps the key component of TOGAF and it provides useful guidelines on how an organization should go about developing its architecture.
As other reviewers have pointed out, the book does tend to get redundant and repetitive. For example, Table 2.1 on page 35 "EIA RA Work Products" describes Business Context Diagram as "Contains the Business Context Diagram that documents ..."

While we're on the subject of books on EA, the only other book I've investigated carefully is A Practical Guide to Enterprise Architecture by McGovern et al (Prentice Hall, 2004). It is a good complement to the above-mentioned book since it doesn't talk much about TOGAF and FEA and instead delves more into the Rational Unified Process (RUP) and Agile based approaches. However, McGovern et al completely neglect to talk about the "enterprise" bit. It's almost as if the book is about architecture and the title was an afterthought from a marketing person. And that's why the offering from Godinez et al is all the more useful.